MY YOGA JOURNEY

As a teenager I battled anxiety, depression and an eating disorder; I was in desperate need of holistic help. I found a Rodney Yee yoga VHS tape in my mom's junk drawer and decided to give it a try.  Like any first-timer, I was confused and challenged by the foreign movements and breath instruction, but it helped me sleep so I stuck with it for a couple months. The seed of yoga was planted. I found my way into a Bikram Yoga studio at 19 and started going regularly, appreciating the heat, intensity and focus it demanded. Eventually I grew tired of the monotony of the poses and the militaristic teaching style, and while it served as a nice distraction, I was still battling my demons fiercely.

One fateful day while I was living in Boulder, Colorado I arrived late at the Bikram studio and missed my opportunity to attend class. Needing a yoga fix, I remembered there was a different type of yoga studio down the street and went there instead. That was my first vinyasa class and since that moment, I don't think a day has gone by that I haven't had yoga on the brain.

I started practicing every single day, sometimes two or three times per day. I was in love with the grace of flowing between poses and the stillness in between; the fire that burned in my muscles during those long holds and the rush of endorphins after back-bending. The physical changes were notable, but there was a deeper shift that started to happen. I no longer had a belly full of anxiety, and the inertia of self-doubt that had been holding me for years started to loosen it's grip. I felt like I could move forward. The critical voices in my head were quieter. My self-love was growing. The act of showing up for myself to practice every day and breathing intentionally was like finding the medicine I had been needing for a very long time.

Through the practice of staying in poses through discomfort, I started to feel at home inside myself. I learned to sit in my feelings and recognize the value in them, no matter how enormous or petty they seemed. I grew the courage to stop numbing myself, and over time stopped engaging in self-destructive behaviors. My practice was to feel. It was, at first, overwhelming, as years of buried emotions started surfacing, but I learned to balance them and had yoga as a healthy way to cope. I learned to be ok with feeling messy and needy. I accepted my humanness, stood tall in it, and this empowered me. I knew I had to share this practice and completed a 600 hour teacher training in 2009. I've since studied with master teachers including Richard Freeman, Ana Forrest, Seane Corn, Baron Baptiste and Rusty Wells to name a few.

My relationship to yoga continues to evolve. I practice because it grounds me in my body when my thoughts are running in too many directions. I practice because it holds me in remembrance that I am an instrument of the divine with a powerful purpose in this world. I practice because it reminds me that I am a strong and loving human. Yoga helps me be a better daughter, sister, friend and partner. It's a practice of self-love and presence, and we can only be present with others to the degree that we are present with ourselves. As time goes by and my awareness deepens, I grow increasingly aware of the way my thoughts affect my life. I've gained a potent recognition of the way prana (life force energy) is governed by thoughts/consciousness and am continually working with yogic techniques to clear my internal pathways, to evolve into the best version of myself that I can be.